On Feb. 23, 2007 my world and more was forever changed. Stopped at a traffic light about 2 miles from home, my cell rang and caller ID said Heather was calling.
“Hi there,” I said.
The silence told me everything.
“We lost him,” she cried and said she couldn’t keep talking.
I started to sob, yell, scream, shake, everything that a father goes through when told your son has been killed. I wondered if I could make it to my condo. I knew if I stopped, pulled over somewhere, I would have to call my wife and she would never be able to safely drive. So I made the turn and got to the condo. I did not have a key and pounded on the door till Wendy unlocked it. She looked at my face and new the terrible truth.
Josh was gone.
SSG Joshua Hager was killed in action on a dark road in Ramadi. He had organized and inspected every vehicle and every member of the Scout Platoon including the commander. Lt. Col. Ferry relied upon Josh to make certain everything was in order before they went out. They went out many times. The first Humvee missed the IED. Josh was in the second and was hit by a deeply buried Iranian made IED. Col. Ferry pulled the lifeless body from the wreckage and worked to help the wounded. Rushing to support the attack, another Humvee with the medic hit IED number two. Spc Buford and Walters were killed trying to aid my son and his boys.
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One week before Josh was killed he and I had a nice talk on the telephone. He asked about my business and we talked about Bayley. Lastly I ask about his job. He never said much, the unsaid speaking more than words can.
But he did say this, “Dad, I will stay here for six years if it takes that to keep Bayley from having to fight in this sand box.”
Josh believed in his mission and that mission was to keep his boys safe. Josh taught every soldier he came in contact with how to be the best possible soldier so others would be safer. Josh was there for his boys. They are all there for us.
After the first weeks of services and being so moved by the support and respect people from across the country had shown, I began to call leaders of Congress so they would hear what my son had said about saving Bayley from having to fight the same war again.
I called Sen. Martinez and Sen. Nelson of Florida. Each made personal calls to me and were very respectful and sincere in their concern for me and my family. I spent nearly and hour with Rep. Buchanan and his wife in their Sarasota office. I privately and respectfully made my case for not wasting my son’s life with an early withdrawal from Iraq. Let the boys finish the job.
I also called four national voice members of government seeking the opportunity for a personal phone call. In turn I called Rep. John Murtha, Speaker Pelosi, Sen. Kerry and Sen. Hagel. In all four cases staff workers told me their members were too busy for me and if I submitted something in writing it might be passed along.
“Thank you, but I have paid a price sufficient to speak with the Member,” I told each staff person.
“Sorry, we are too busy to talk with you.”
In truth the four members I contacted want nothing to do with a father proud and strong enough to confront their political ambitions with the valor of an Army Ranger. When compared to the bravery and courage my son showed in Iraq, Sen. Kerry is a sorry excuse for a soldier. Harsh words, but how else to explain his refusal to speak with me?
I put forward the following question. Does Speaker Pelosi seek the containment of Iran and the protection of our forces in Iraq from Iranian weapons?
Vote 435 to 0 giving President Bush authority to use any and all means necessary to prevent any further Iranian intervention in Iraq. Now how much stronger would US negotiations with Iran be than if Congress votes to prevent President Bush from taking any action against Iran without first consulting Congress. In the first case, US troops are protected, Iran understands it can not fight our forces and would begin to negotiate. For the Democrats that US success would be a loss to their political desires and therefore an unacceptable result. To the Democrats in leadership, nothing is more important than political victory, not security, not success in Iraq, nothing. My son’s death is of no importance if it contributes to American strength, ie, higher ratings for President Bush.
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I have the right to my strong emotions. I have the right to voice my opinion. Members of Congress should remember three things. First, they are paid by the citizens and serve the citizens of this country. Second, if you seek out national recognition, then accept the national stage even when uncomfortable. Finally, look at those closest to you, those who have your ear, are they as brave as my son? Would those about you die so that you could live? My son stood there beside you, 8000 miles away. He did die for you. You know it, I know it, my grandson knows it. Are you brave enough to let the American people know you understand and are ready to stand beside someone too? Are you ready to die for America? My son was, how can you ignore him? What do I tell my grandson about his government and how they abandoned his father?